MY WASHINGTON • Spring 2002
Angel Harvey

The First Lady of Radio

Angel Harvey and her husband, Paul Harvey, have filled the airwaves, and American hearts and minds, for the last half century. As Angel's pioneering efforts have helped pave the way for other female successes in broadcasting, the Harveys' generosity is assisting the American Culture Studies Program at the University.

A love of words, a fascination with literature, and a keen eye for observation—these youthful talents can set the course for a lifetime. At age 12, Lynne Cooper (always called "Angel") had already written a novel. From that precocious beginning, she went on to become an innovator who would shape and interpret American culture in the 20th century.

As the producer of the nation's leading radio program, Paul Harvey News, working in collaboration with her husband, Paul Harvey, Angel has had a profound influence on the way Americans experience radio and television news. Starting in the late 1940s, for example, she realized that they would gain a wider audience by broadcasting at 10 p.m., when more adults were at leisure; that time slot quickly became the national standard for evening news programs.

In 1976, Angel developed the Harveys' famed The Rest of the Story, four-minute radio segments that portray little-known facts behind famous people and events. She also created two television programs, Paul Harvey Comments, a nationally syndicated show that aired five days a week for 20 years, and Dilemma, which became a prototype for the television talk-show genre. Other innovations include feature stories within a newscast and the humorous "kicker" at the end.

For her lifetime of broadcasting firsts, in 1997 she became the first producer inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, joining such luminaries as Edward R. Murrow, Bob Hope, William Paley, Groucho Marx, and Garrison Keillor.

Writing a Wonderful Life

"When I was growing up in St. Louis, with five older sisters, I wanted to be a writer," Angel recalls. "I was introduced to a professional novelist who discouraged me from trying to make a living in the arts, but my parents always felt there should be no limits on what women could do. That is one of the great benefits of education—it gives each of us the opportunity to choose our own path in life."

Angel's love of literature blossomed at Washington University, where she immersed herself in the humanities and majored in English. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate, she earned both bachelor's and master's degrees. "The faculty members were wonderful," she remembers. "They introduced us to the value of a liberal arts education as the basis for a lifetime of learning. My graduate adviser was Richard Foster Jones, who emphasized writing and the importance of research. I don't think many people understand how much research goes into the news business, which is about getting it first—and getting it right."

While still a student at WU, Angel responded to a newspaper ad from KXOK radio looking for topics on education. "I sent them a list of ideas," she says, "and to my surprise, they asked me to do the program on the air. I decided to take on the challenge." A young reporter named Paul Harvey was director of special events at the station, and he proposed to Angel on their first date. The rest, as they say, is history.

But first came the attack on Pearl Harbor. Paul enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and Angel moved to his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she found a job at a CBS affiliate and became one of the first women in the nation to run an entire radio broadcast. From 4 p.m. to midnight, she handled everything from reading the news to spinning records, which gave her a lasting respect for the people behind the scenes. "I was all alone," she says, "but it was a great way to learn the business!"

In 1944, Paul left the service and the Harveys moved to Chicago, where they joined ABC affiliate WENR-AM. From the beginning, they were a team. "He told me, 'You do the on-air work, and I'll back you,'" Angel remembers, "but I thought he should do the commentary. With that beautiful voice, he was a natural." With Angel guiding the program as producer, director, editor, and writer, Paul Harvey Newsquickly became No. 1 in Chicago. In 1951, ABC began airing the program coast to coast.

For more than 50 years, Paul Harvey Newshas been America's favorite radio news program. Currently it reaches more than 24 million people around the world through some 1,400 ABC network radio stations and 400 Armed Forces Network stations. The program remains very much a family affair, assisted by the Harveys' son, Paul Harvey, Jr., whose superb writing Angel credits for the success of The Rest of the Story. In turn, Paul, Jr. praises his mother for her intuitive sense of "what works and what doesn't."

A Strong University Connection

At the University, William Danforth, chancellor emeritus and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, has called Angel Harvey "a superstar graduate." In recognition of her accomplishments, she received a Founders Day Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997, an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1998, and the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2001 for her support and advocacy of Washington University. She is a Life Member of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society's Danforth Circle and a member of the Phoenix and Chicago Regional Cabinets.

Her dedication to the University is embodied in her commitment to the American Culture Studies Program in Arts & Sciences. In 1999, she established the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Chair in English, and Wayne Fields, professor of English and director of the American Culture Studies Program, was named the chair's first holder. Angel's most recent gift supports the Harvey Fellows, eight graduate students who pursue interdisciplinary studies under the direct guidance of the Harvey Professor.

"Angel's confidence in the American Culture Studies Program has been invaluable," says Fields. "Her support is helping us develop new ways to mentor students and involve them directly in research. It's an innovative model for teaching and learning in the humanities, intended to strengthen interdisciplinary studies in a substantial way."

"My husband and I are both optimists," Angel says. "We are very interested in the multicultural influences on our society and how we all can understand and benefit from them. Professor Fields is a wonderful teacher, with great warmth and commitment to students. We look forward to great things from this program in the future."

Lasting Impact

Today, in addition to producing broadcasts heard six days a week, Angel maintains an extraordinary level of professional and philanthropic activities. She serves on many boards, including Prevent Child Abuse America, the Infant Welfare Society, the U.S.O., the Illinois Charitable Trusts and Advisory Council, the Joffrey Ballet, and the Children's Home & Aid Society. She refers to herself as a "team player," who enjoys working with groups to help others.

In September 2001, Angel Harvey received a Lifetime Achievement Award from American Women in Radio and Television. As she considers the extraordinary changes in American society during her lifetime, Angel says, "I am so proud of women in broadcasting today—they are accomplishing so much." These women owe a great deal to Angel, one of the pioneers who maintained a family and a high-profile career at a time when few women pursued both.

Susan Wooleyhan Caine